A stone lion in front of the Gate of Great Harmony inside Beijing's Forbidden City

A stone lion in front of the Gate of Great Harmony inside Beijing’s Forbidden City

Why Mandarin Chinese?

China, whose name translates into English as “the Middle Kingdom,” is one of the largest and most populous nations in the world. With a GDP that trails only the United States, this East Asian giant is one of the forces driving the world’s economy. As globalization continues to expand in scale and scope, American companies will depend on workers who not only speak Chinese but also have a deep level of cultural understanding to promote their business throughout “the Middle Kingdom.” In addition to being a major economic force, China boasts a rich and profound culture that can be traced back five millennia.

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Learning calligraphy in Shanghai

Mandarin Chinese is the official language of the world’s most populous nation and is spoken by approximately 1.3 billion people worldwide. Although all Chinese high school students are required to take several years of English before graduation, only a small fraction of the U.S. population studies Chinese. The goal of the Chinese Language Flagship Program at The University of Mississippi is to provide its students with the necessary training to transition seamlessly between the languages and cultures of the most politically and economically powerful nations of the Pacific Rim, i.e., the United States and China.

Strengths and Unique Features of the UM Chinese Flagship:

We encourage all prospective students to look into all of the Chinese Flagships (found at www.thelanguageflagship.org) and to seek out the programs that will serve them best.  Below are several ways that we believe we stand out.
  • An exclusive curriculum beginning from day 1, that allows students to make strong, consistent gains every semester.  Our summer programs allow students to catch up, jump ahead, or at least not waste time on material they have already covered.  It also allows students to enter the program at multiple points.  Since we run our own domestic and overseas summer programs, students complete 4 years’ worth of instruction by the end of sophomore year, by which time, they reach on average Advanced Low proficiency.  These gains are possible precisely because the students move through an exclusive curriculum as a cohort and complete a summer on campus (if needed) and a second summer abroad before their sophomore year.   From there, they are ready to return to China on their own for an additional summer, semester, and/or academic year and to take our advanced level courses that prepare them in all aspects for the Capstone year.
  • A strong set of specialized and selective programs that students can apply to, usually out of high school, and if accepted, can provide them with a world class education and specialized skills that, along with unheard-of language proficiency, make them extremely competitive in the job market. Being part of these programs also means that students receive in-depth advising every semester and access to alumni networks that help them find internship and job opportunities.  Graduate programs and government agencies come to campus and actively recruit these students, setting up meetings specifically for members of these programs.  These are listed below, but range from international relations to manufacturing (an engineering background for business or accounting majors, or a business background for engineering majors).
* IMPORTANT NOTE: While it often seems to incoming freshmen that they won’t be able to handle a combination of specialized programs, the truth is that most of our students are members of several.  The most common grouping is Honors, Croft, and Flagship, but CME-Flagship is also common for those interested in STEM.  One student successfully completed Honors, Croft, Flagship, Security Studies (CISS), and Air Force ROTC and graduated on time.  Many of these programs provide hefty scholarships that stack with the large scholarships automatically awarded to students with the right academic credentials.
  • Automatic scholarships that make this university extremely affordable, even to out-of-state students.  As indicated in the tables above, a non-resident student with a 3.5+ GPA and a 31 on the ACT (or SAT equiv.) pays about $8k per year in tuition, and with a 32+, the scholarship covers more than tuition, meaning that the university writes you a check to cover room and board, travel, books, etc.  In addition to these, many of our students receive scholarships from the other programs they are in (Croft, Honors, CME, etc.), or from outside sources.  After covering their other costs, many of them let these funds accumulate to fund additional terms abroad.
  • Strong backing from the university that recognizes the achievements and challenges of Flagship students.  Flagship students are exceptional and require many, many administrative exceptions throughout their college careers.  Because of the profile of the program, admissions, financial aid, the bursar, various schools and departments, and even the provost all work together to insure that Flagship students are able to accomplish what would normally be nearly impossible.  Honors, Croft, CME, ROTC, etc. also have differing sets of requirements that occasionally come into conflict; however, students who succeed in a combination of programs raise not only their own marketability but also the profile of each of program.  Far more effort must be invested in our shared students, but that we in the administration know that there is a very high chance that the extra effort will have a direct and significant effect on the students’ academic and career outcomes.  The university also backs up its support with additional scholarship funds to help with the extra summer sessions and provides 4-year scholarships to selected Flagship students.